Google has been keeping webmasters busy lately. In February, Google announced an update designed to reward mobile-friendly sites in search results. In March, Google released the doorway page penalty algorithm, which, as the name implies, cracks down on pages that have been created solely to attract search traffic without providing any value to the searcher. The doorway algorithm update has created some concern among brands that operate multiple pages — for example, national retailers with multiple product pages and locations. My counsel: focus not on Google but on providing quality content, and your brand will be just fine.
I see the doorway update as an extension of the Panda algorithm, which targets thin content created for search engines and not for people. Unfortunately, Google’s definition of a doorway page is murky, which understandably creates some angst among webmasters and search engine strategists. As Home Depot search engine optimization manager Erin Everhart wrote recently in Search Engine Watch, “Even the five questions Google suggested to consider when determining if your page could be considered a doorway page didn’t help give much light to worrying webmasters. How does Google define ‘usable’ and ‘relevant’? If the page actually is an island and doesn’t have any internal links pointing to it, would it not rank in the first place?”
No wonder I have received calls from businesses asking whether their local content pages are “safe.” My advice always comes down to asking yourself one question: Why did you create a particular page of content? To serve a user or to serve a search engine? If you created a location page to serve a function such as providing information about your services, as well as name/address/location detail, then you need not worry that you are operating a doorway page. If you created the page to attract the attention of a search engine, then the page might be tagged as a doorway page and will suffer a penalty.
Yes, the lines can get blurry between legitimate content and doorway pages. A retailer that provides multiple pages for a single shoe line might be veering into doorway territory if the pages consist of thin content, such as the same shoe in different colors. Such a retailer would be wise to combine the product lines on one page for ease of reference or simply make it possible for the user to mix and match shoe colors and prices with the tap of a keyboard.
Google has been targeting thin content for some time. So the doorway algorithm should not come as a surprise. If you’ve been minding the usefulness of your content and focusing on the needs of your customers all along, Google will reward you. More importantly, your customers should be doing so already.
It seems like everywhere I look — Twitter, Google, Facebook — I keep seeing the word “Mobilegeddon”.
For all of those worried about Google’s upcoming algorithm update coming to a SERP near you on April 21st — don’t panic. Whether you have noticed it or not, Google has been moving in this direction for quite a while.
For some perspective on “Mobilegeddon,” and what it means to your brand, check out my byline in Search Engine Land.
Is your website mobile friendly? If so, what benefits have you been seeing as a result?
Location and context just became more important to brands. On March 23, Twitter disclosed a relationship with Foursquare to make it possible for people to add specific locations to their Tweets. In other words, you can give your tweets additional context by sharing your location (e.g., “Starbucks, 123 Mission Street. San Francisco”) along with your activity. The relationship underscores how important it is for brands to create personal, contextual relationships with customers at the local level — such as by offering location-specific offers targeted to Twitter users based on their location and activity.
Twitter users are already able to add cities or neighborhoods to their tweets. But as explained on the Twitter website, soon users will be able to add specific locations– such as restaurants, businesses, and retail stores. As Twitter notes, “You can choose to add a location to your Tweets using Twitter for Android, Twitter for iOS, twitter.com or other mobile applications.” The mobile applicability is crucial: mobile searches are expected to surpass desktop searches in 2015, per eMarketer.
The Twitter/Foursquare relationship creates an opportunity for businesses (such as large enterprises with multiple locations) to create more location-relevant information, such as offers and recommendations. For instance, if you Tweet about the lunch you are having in the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, the Banana Republic Twitter account that you follow just might want to let you know about a sale going on at the nearby Banana Republic in the Financial Center. But retailers are not the only brands that can benefit. For instance, a medical practice might share with you information about the doctors at its location depending on where you are and what you are doing.
The relationship is also a huge win for Foursquare because Foursquare extends its reach as a source of business data for third-party applications. Foursquare already supplies data to Uber and Pinterest to make those apps more locally relevant. Partnering with Twitter makes Foursquare a more influential player in local search.
For brands to succeed, they should consider carefully the importance of context. Brands that tweet offers willy-nilly based on someone’s location may alienate customers and prospects. Brands that take into account a person’s context — such as the time of day a tweet is shared, the actual content and tone of the tweet — will win by being relevant.
Photo Credit: TechCrunch
Any brand that operates multiple locations faces the compelling challenge of creating content that is more relevant and findable to local audiences. For instance, if you are a retailer with locations in Sao Paulo and New York, a winter-season promotion will occur at radically different times of the year in both locations. As I discuss in my new column for Search Engine Land, your local workforce can be incredibly valuable as you formulate location-aware content. Your local employees understands the nuances of communicating to their local markets better than anyone. My new column shares how brands can more effectively tap into the value of their local brand ambassadors. Check it out and let me know what you think.
When Google unleashed its Pigeon update months ago, my colleagues at SIM Partners and I agreed that it would take some time before we could assess Pigeon’s impact on brands. Since then, using the Velocity platform, we have researched its effect on clients and have learned that Pigeon has a number of implications for brands. Studying 5,000 location pages across several industries, we wanted to know how Pigeon affects crucial factors such as website traffic and ranking performance among businesses that depend on local listings. I discuss the results of our study in my new byline for Search Engine Land and encourage you to read our findings and let us know how Pigeon is affecting your brand. Read the article here!
Happy holidays and continued success in 2014 from all of us at SIM Partners.
Google recently announced that 50% of search queries on mobile devices are for local information; unfortunately, the tactics to convert traffic from these searches can be overwhelming to many business owners. One often overlooked tactic is to update the business’ core website using responsive design to deliver the information most frequently requested by customers when using mobile devices. Read more »
As smart phone usage continues to grow, the amount of apps that feature business data has exploded. From traditional local directory apps like Yelp and YP Mobile to apps that are inherently local like Foursquare and MapQuest to mega-popular apps like Facebook and Instagram that are making inroads in the local space, business information is appearing more frequently on more devices than ever before.
In order to better understand where these apps are sourcing this business information, we put together this infographic showing the top 23 apps by total historical downloads and showed who is supplying the data for each.
Wishing you all continued success in 2013, and a safe and Happy Holiday!!
- Jon, Adam, Jay & Neil